Twice a year many Mennonite congregations across Canada and the U.S. share a common worship experience. That’s because they use the same worship resources during the seasons of Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter.
The Lent/Easter 2016 theme is “Living Ink,” recognizing God as the Author who invites people to be co-authors in the grand narrative of God’s story. This year’s writing team comes from Mennonite Church British Columbia congregations in the Fraser Valley. In March 2015, Emmanuel Mennonite Church hosted the team’s two-day writing retreat. (Longer reflections on this year’s scripture texts will appear in Canadian Mennonite. See Lent 5: “For what purpose has Christ grabbed hold of you?”)
The worship materials are generally developed by teams from either Mennonite Church Canada or Mennonite Church USA, based on the scripture texts from the Revised Common Lectionary. A group of pastors and lay leaders, with their varied gifts, goes through a process of worship and immersion in the scripture texts for the assigned season. They consider together the socio/political contexts for these worship services in the diverse North American congregations. They choose a theme for the series and suggest sermon ideas, children’s stories, prayers, songs and ideas for visual displays.
Since 2003, Mennonite Church Canada and USA have cooperated in producing these materials. The worship resources are available to subscribers of Leader, the magazine for congregational leaders published by MennoMedia. Congregations use the worship suggestions as best fits their own context.
“These resources have played a major part in building our North American Anabaptist identity.” says team member Elsie Rempel. “Each writing team that offers their gifts to produce these worship resources is blessed with a broader understanding of and a deeper love for our North American Mennonite church family,” says Rempel, who has been involved in developing the worship materials for the past ten years, along with Dave Bergen, as part of their roles with MC Canada Faith Formation.
Rempel also wrote worship materials that families can use during the 2016 Lent/Easter season. They can be downloaded from CommonWord. www.commonword.ca/go/35.